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NEWS CAPSULES

Around the world

INDIA: An alliance of leftist groups searched Monday for a compromise candidate to lead the next India government, hoping to deny power to the Hindu nationalist party that fared best in parliamentary elections. With no party coming close to winning a majority of the 545 seats in India's lower house of parliament, the battle for power has emerged as a contest between the Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party vs. the rest. The National Front, a hodgepodge of socialist, communist and low-caste parties, received a boost Sunday when the long-governing Congress Party offered to give a leftist government outside backing.NAZI TRIAL: The massacre of 335 civilians was an apt reprisal for an attack on German soldiers and should not be considered a war crime, the defense lawyer for a former Nazi officer said Monday. Former SS Capt. Erich Priebke was "following an order that he thought legitimate because it was a legitimate order of reprisal," lawyer Velio Di Rezze told the military court in Rome. In the first detailed defense of the 82-year-old Priebke, Di Rezze also said his client would have "faced the firing squad" if he had refused to carrying out the slayings, ordered after 32 German soldiers were killed in a bomb attack by civilian resistance forces. Prosecutors think Priebke played a key part in the 1944 massacre in caves outside Rome.

Across the nation

BODY: Chicago police officers called to remove the body of a 500-pound woman made crude remarks about the woman's size and left her naked corpse in open view, family members say. Relatives and neighbors of Patricia Mullen, 31, said officers left Mullen's naked body near an open door for five hours Tuesday and raided her refrigerator and played video games as they awaited help in moving the body. They also said children looking into the basement apartment saw officers jiggling the body with their feet and heard them making unkind comments. The family has filed a formal complaint against the officers.

JOE CAMEL: A billboard of cartoon pitchman Joe Camel was removed from its perch near an elementary school after students complained to the sign's owners. Students in Mary Del Rio's third- and fourth-grade class at Markham Elementary School in Portland, Ore., noticed the sign facing the school last month and wrote in protest to Ackerley Outdoor Advertising. The company wrote back and said the sign would be taken down. Within a few weeks, it was. "Our policy restricts tobacco and alcohol advertisement placement within 500 feet from our schools," the company said. "We apologize for the oversight."

AUCTION: They didn't say no returns at Sotheby's frenzied Jackie Kennedy Onassis auction. A couple of people who made celebrity-fueled bids on items at the estate sale last month apparently felt the pangs of buyer's remorse, Newsweek reported in its May 20 issue. Diana Phillips, a Sotheby's vice president, said two or three buyers asked the auction house if the items they bought could be "reoffered." Sotheby's agreed, and was able to resell the items to the underbidders or "people who had told us they were interested in buying any objects from the auction," Phillips said.